Report: Butch Jones phoned police, Drae Bowles in moments after alleged sexual assault
Records show that Tennessee coach Butch Jones made a flurry of phone calls to both police and Vols players in the early hours of Nov. 16, 2014, shortly after a woman alleged that two Tennessee football players raped her.
Former Vols WR Drae Bowles, who transferred out of the program in Jan. 2015 and has been a key figure in the investigation after alleging that Jones called him a “traitor” for assisting the alleged victim, was among those contacted by Jones during those early moments after the alleged crime.
The Tennessean received Jones’ phone records on Wednesday as a part of a public records request.
The phone records, released Wednesday after a public records request by The Tennessean, show Jones was regularly in contact with his players, authorities and his boss, UT Athletics Director Dave Hart. The logs show only when calls were made and how long they lasted. They do not shed light on the content of those conversations.
The Tennessean reports that the timeline on the phone records lines up with the sworn declaration submitted by Bowles as part of a federal lawsuit against the university.
Bowles claims that he came to the aide of the alleged victim of former teammates A.J. Johnson and Michael Williams.
Jones has adamantly denied claims that he tried to demean his former player for his role in the alleged incident.
He maintained that position in a statement about the phone calls in question that was released by the university on Wednesday, as recorded by The Tennessean:
“Regarding the calls to Drae Bowles and his father, I care about Drae as a person and as a player and have frequent communications with players or their parents,” Jones said in his statement released by the athletics department. “I am very comfortable with everything Drae, Mr. Bowles, and I discussed, and I wish him nothing but the very best. My intent was to support Drae and make sure he was ok. There’s nothing more important to me than the ultimate success in the life of our students.”
“Anytime we have a disciplinary issue with a player, we have as many conversations as needed with players, parents, law enforcement, whomever until we can be sure that we are making the best decision possible,” Jones said in his statement Wednesday. “These are decisions that can be life-changing for these individuals. After taking into account all the information we could gather in this case, we made the decision to suspend two student-athletes from the team immediately.”
The Tennessean reports that the phones calls went on for several days following the alleged crime. Jones suspended both Johnson and Williams the following day.
Johnson and Williams face separate rape charges in Knoxville. Each has entered a “not guilty” plea.